A sexual abuse lawsuit brought about by a woman who claimed she was sexually harassed and groped by a doctor at a county clinic has been settled for $1.3 million. Dr. Steve Leong, of the Claude Hudson Comprehensive Health Center in South L.A. had previously been arrested in 2013 and charged for multiple accounts of sexually assaulting female patients in a clinic examination room. An unnamed plaintiff complained that Leong had groped her and made lewd comments during multiple medical appointments beginning in 2010. When she reached out to nursing staff, she was told to request a different physician, but despite making a formal request, was never given one. In the lawsuit, she stated that the county was negligent in failing to investigate the situation, and keeping Leong on staff. As part of the settlement, L.A. county health officials are required to put in place stricter protocols requiring chaperones for medical examinations, and the development of policies to encourage clinic staff to report doctors suspected of negligence and misconduct.
Apparently, nurses at the clinic had been aware of Dr. Leong’s inappropriate behavior for years, and had given him the nickname, “Dr. Pervert.” Even though there were policies in place requiring chaperones to be present during examinations, Leong would order them to leave. The nurses on staff at the hospital claimed that even though they knew of his behavior, they felt that the environment at their place of work was not safe enough for reporting doctor misconduct, and that they would be “undermined and attacked,” for doing so. Hal Yee, chief medical officer with the Department of Health Services claims the county is doing its best to create a “culture where people understand they will not be punished for doing the right thing.”
Leong has since resigned from the county, and has been convicted on criminal charges, with a five year probation prohibiting him from treating female patients without a nurse or other staffer present. A filed petition to revoke his medical license has been filed by the state medical board, and is still pending.
If you have fallen victim to medical negligence by a doctor, the lawyers at Hodes Milman Liebeck are there for you in your time of need. Contact us today online at hmlm.com or call (949) 640-8222 for a complimentary case evaluation.